Behar Blames 'Gerrymandering' for GOP Senate Wins in Midterms

ABC's Matt Dowd: 'That’s the Constitution'

November 7, 2018

Joy Behar of "The View" falsely claimed Wednesday that Republicans maintained control–and even gained seats–in the Senate this election cycle because of gerrymandering, a process that impacts congressional districts.

ABC’s Matt Dowd had to reply that the Republican Party's ability to control of the Senate while obtaining less votes in the national popular vote was not a result of gerrymandering. "That’s the Constitution," he said.

Behar's remark came in response to Dowd remarking that popular support for Democrats was outpacing Democratic gains. He noted President Donald Trump won the electoral college in 2016 but lost the popular vote. Likewise, Democrats received 8 million more votes than Republicans between the various Senate races last night, but still lost seats.

While Behar blamed a Democratic minority on gerrymandering, the process has nothing to do with the election or distribution of senators. Gerrymandering is the manner in which congressional districts are drawn to favor one political party or candidate. Senators are elected at the state level, so state lines determine electors, not congressional districts.

Behar is hardly the latest public figure in need of a civics refresher. MSNBC’s Steve Benen wrote on Rachel Maddow’s blog that the "House ‘popular vote’ gives Democrats something to brag about." Salon’s Amanda Marcotte pointed to the results as proof the United States is not a democracy. (The Federalist Papers No. 10, written by James Madison, agrees in that the United States was not structured to be a "direct democracy.")

Behar’s error aside, Dowd’s original comment was misleading in its own right.

Democrats did not "lose" the Senate races last night. There were 35 Senate seats up for election, and Democrats won the majority of them. Only one third of the Senate’s 100 seats are up for election any election year, so the "popular vote" any given election does not reflect national sentiment. Moreover, some states did not even have a Republican on the ballot. California, for example, had two Democrats running against each other, so votes cast against either Democrat would count towards Dowd's Democratic "popular vote."